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October 01, 2006

Raccoon shit is natural, therefore it must be okay to drink

According to the Washington Post, overpopulation of deer, geese, raccoons, and other wild animals leads to excessive levels of bacteria in the water supply. If you're faced with an intractable problem, lower your standards:

Scientists have run high-tech tests on harmful bacteria in local rivers and streams and found that many of the germs -- and in the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, a majority of them-- come from wildlife dung. The strange proposition that nature is apparently polluting itself has created a serious conundrum for government officials charged with cleaning up the rivers.

Part of the problem lies with the unnaturally high populations of deer, geese and raccoons living in modern suburbs and depositing their waste there. But officials say it would be nearly impossible, and wildly unpopular, to kill or relocate enough animals to make a dent in even that segment of the pollution.

That leaves scientists and environmentalists struggling with a more fundamental question: How clean should we expect nature to be? In certain cases, they say, the water standards themselves might be flawed, if they appear to forbid something as natural as wild animals leaving their dung in the woods.

"You need to go back and say, 'Maybe the standards aren't exactly right' if wildlife are causing the problem," said Thomas Henry, an Environmental Protection Agency official who works on water pollution in the mid-Atlantic. [WaPo]

The EPA didn't just pull those standards out of its ass, so to speak. If humans are contributing to animal overpopulation, we need to tackle those problems directly. People might actually stop feeding raccoons if they realized that their drinking water was being contaminated by raccoon shit.

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Comments

I was attacked by a goose as a small child. Raccoons tore open my rabbit hutch ate half my pet rabbit. Suburban infestations are no joke.

Lindsay grew up on the mean streets, yo.

(Also, that sucks.)

Did I mention it was uphill both ways to school?

Joining the avoiding doing dishes crowd.
If the Canada geese are not toxic, then they should be culled and processed for use in shelters and as emergency food packets. Roadkill deer used to be given to local orphanages, hospitals and military units. A friend's sister was a MP at a Canadian base and the MPs shared all usable roadkill found on the base. If a cull is done by professionals and benefits the local community, then it should be done. We have messed up their habitat and we are not going away. We are also providing them with food in the form of well-manured lawns and garbage cans and we need to deal with the population growth that a constant food source creates in a local population.

My sister was attacked by a goose as a child, she still bears the scar. Geese are extremely territorial and can be dangerous. Treating wildlife as a cute adjunct to an urban park is always a mistake.

The environment is out of balance. We can protect it as best we can, maybe reversing some of the imbalance.I would be in favor of limiting pesticide and herbicide use etc.

But again, there is probably no substitute for a cull. The problem is that so very many today, esp in the Northeast, think that all deer are big-eyed Bambis and that it is wrong to ever kill a wild creature.

Many of those who oppose culling these herds would think that they're being friends of animals and environmentalists, when in fact they are neither.

I love wildlife, and take immense pleasure in the reintroduction of wolves into their former domains, etc. but it is unnatural and wrong to have immense, unbalanced deer, goose and other populations in many areas. It's bad for people and it is bad for animals.


Roadkill deer used to be given to local orphanages, hospitals and military units.

I worked one year on the Olympic Peninsula in WA on a fish habitat restoration project where we used labor from the local minimum-security state prison. The prisoners were given road-killed and poached deer and elk to eat. The prisoners had to butcher the animals themselves. If there was an experienced hunter among them who knew what to do with the meat, they'd eat well, otherwise they'd be in for a lot of chewing. Most were not familiar with, and didn't like venison. They called it "rudy stew" after the X-mas reindeer.

Yet another episode of "American prisons are slave factories," I suppose.

They could solve the problem tomorrow morning by an effective cull, but local animal lovers throw roadblocks at every turn. - The Phantom

Well ... actually culls don't quite do the job right as the hunters pick the wrong animals.

I was in NJ at the height of the cull debates. There was a protest and counter-protest in Princeton. At the risk of sounding like I have press credentials, I gotta say both sides were stupid. Some anti-hunting protestor had a sign that said "if you hate wildlife, move out of the forest" or some such. I thought that was the right attitude -- but the wildlife that both sides hated and would not re-introduce were natural preditors: that's the real solution to the over-population problem -- re-introducing the wolves, etc. That's why the suburbs have so many deer, etc., because they killed off the predators!

If you wanna live in the forest, you gotta be able to deal with the wildlife -- including the wolves and bears, eh?

DAS

I'm pro-wolf, so we're not far apart. A nice cull and gradual re-introduction of wolves, sounds like a nice short term and long term solution to me.

One of the things that comes across my desk is the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission agenda, which includes meeting minutes, proposals, management plans, etc., and the public letters and emails regarding plans and legislation. Every time the agenda contains anything about wolves it includes a couple hundred items submitted by the public. The deal is that wolves are slipping into Northeast Oregon by the ones and twos, and because they are federally listed as endangered, they cannot simply be shot or trapped but have to have an official management plan drafted by the state, before anything is done. The letters and emails are roughly half and half pro and anti wolf. They range from literate to barely so, from reasoned to loopey, urban addresses and rural, and just about all of them passionate. Ranchers in general are adamantly opposed to letting any wolves in, even with killed livestock compensation built into the management plans as with Yellowstone and Minnesota wolves. Some letters are just nuts: one proposed trapping and transporting wolves to Eugene, Oregon's hotbed of liberalism, so they "can eat the hippies".

Consider that the wolf reintroduction program in New Mexico is barely limping along because the wolves keep getting shot. Wolves as a control for deer won't work anywhere but in rural areas. Cougars, on the other hand, can, and do live in exurbs in the West, though how much they actually do to keep deer, raccoons, much less park geese, in check I don't know.

"eat the hippies"

LOL!

Yeah, I loved that one. Had it posted on the wall for a while, but can't find it anymore.

Consider that the wolf reintroduction program in New Mexico is barely limping along because the wolves keep getting shot. Wolves as a control for deer won't work anywhere but in rural areas. Cougars, on the other hand, can, and do live in exurbs in the West, though how much they actually do to keep deer, raccoons, much less park geese, in check I don't know.

Interesting points, cfrost. Are cougars less hunted than wolves because they're more adept at avoiding hunters? Or because they're less hated? Isn't it true that cougars are much more likely to attack humans than wolves?

I keep remembering the quote, "there's never been a documented human death due to wolf attack in North America," something I've always taken with a grain of salt (and which may be urban myth for all I know). I do know there have been a number of cougar attacks in the west over the past couple of years.

Are cougars less hunted than wolves because they're more adept at avoiding hunters? Or because they're less hated?

Wolves aren’t hunted at all –legally- in the lower 48, as they are federally listed as endangered/threatened. They were extirpated in the contiguous US by loss of habitat and prey base, hunting, trapping, poisoning, both privately and with deliberate effort by federal and state agencies. They recolonized northern Minnesota naturally from Canada and they are in the process of reclaiming their range in other areas along the northern border. Where they move in naturally, they automatically fall into “endangered” status and pretty much have to be left alone by private individuals as well as government. In special situations, that is Yellowstone, and New Mexico, they’re still listed, but may be controlled by federal authorities. Wolves are culled (by air - with lots of controversy) in Alaska to relieve pressure on caribou herds.

Cougar hunting is allowed in a number of western states. Cougars are just like your house cat though – when they want to make themselves scarce, they do so very effectively. Anyone really serious about cougar hunting does so with dogs trained for the purpose. Cougars are solitary, largely crepuscular or nocturnal, stick to cover, and they’re quiet, so even where they’re relatively abundant, hardly anyone sees them. Plus the fact that, as large warm-blooded predators, they’re never really “common”. I know a number of hunters who buy cougar/bear permits along with their deer & elk tags every year. They get their deer and/or elk, they occasionally get a bear, and they essentially never get a cougar. This in an area -SW Washington- where cougars are not uncommon. (Forestry practices here produce lots of second growth and young stands of trees which feed and shelter deer and elk, which feed cougars.) Just last week a woman where I work was telling an envious coworker who has wanted to shoot a cougar for years, that she had seen a cougar near the parking lot. He had never seen one live.

Wolves move in packs, often in the open, are noisy, and are fond of livestock. So they attract attention, frequently to their detriment.

Isn't it true that cougars are much more likely to attack humans than wolves? . . . there's never been a documented human death due to wolf attack in North America . . . there have been a number of cougar attacks in the west over the past couple of years

Grizzly bears and polar bears will occasionally attack humans. In North America those are the only predators one needs to worry about. Attacks by wolves, cougars, black bears and coyotes are so rare as to be essentially of no concern. We’re the most dangerous predator here. A cougar did kill a jogger (in Colorado I think) last year, but considering the size of the human population within cougar’s range, any one person’s chances of being attacked by a cougar –or wolf- are miniscule. Dogs and wasps are far more dangerous.

There have been cougar attacks in California in the last several years - at least three resulted in fatalities that I recall.

fuck all of you hunters

First of all, all of you (the ones who advocated kiling) are fucking idiots.
Hunting is very cruel and inhumane even if it is to clean your water. The animals have no where else to shit. When we destroy their habitat, they are forced to live close to us and then they have to shit in our water. If you want to hunt because of overpopulation, you should hunt humans first because they are the most overpopulated animal on earth and we are also the most unethical, destructive, and selfish animal too. There are much more humane ways to do it. To clean water, get better filters and don't encourage animals to live there; don't kill them. And for overpopulation, also don't encourage them to live there and now they have invented birth control for animals so you can inject it in the females. You can also humanely trap them and release them somewhere else. Hunters are worse than school yard bullies, they kill defensless animals for fun. And for those that do it to clean our water, their are much more humane ways to do it. And remember, humans are the most overpopulated animals on earth so would it be ok to hunt them. And if you think its ok to kill animals because there not as smart as us, would it be ethical to kill retarded people because there overpopulated?

My advice for you: since you are all fucking idiots (the ones who advocated hunting), go fuck a rock you fucking retarded, sociopathic assholes.

P.S. You are all dumbasses

This is an interesting conversation. I will point out that a clever group of youngsters from Reston, Virginia have studied the problem of polution from goose poop, and have published a small educational video on YouTube to describe the problem and discuss several potential solutions with pros and cons. (They act out the solutions, which is rather clever and funny.) I encourage you to view the video and return any comments to the group on YouTube or by email. Their page: http://www.youtube.com/user/BLTLego

Mike

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